Impairment Ratings 101

With Elizabeth Brooks, Independent Advocate for Nuclear Workers & Survivors

An impairment rating provides compensation for former DOE employees for any percentage of permanent disability caused by the approved illness. Impairment ratings are done every 2 years or every time a new condition is added. They are paid at a rate of $2,500 per percentage point of disability. For example, if you are impaired at 50% for your covered conditions, you will receive $125,000 (50% x $2,500). Former DOE workers may receive compensation up to $250,000.

Preparing for your Impairment Rating

Once you have received a recommendation for an impairment rating, you should start the preparation process.

  1. If you are able to pay for the needed testing with your current medical insurance, you should schedule your appointment as soon as possible. You may receive correspondence listing the minimum documentation and testing requirements for each condition that you are covered for. However; if you have an advocate, it’s best to have them fill out this paperwork with the qualified physician that will be performing your evaluation. Your advocate will consult with your physician to ensure the appropriate testing is ordered for your specific case.
  2. If you would prefer to wait to receive your DOL medical benefits white card before doing testing, consult with your advocate so your appointment can be made in a timely fashion. Please note, you’ll receive correspondence from the Department of Labor every 30 days asking if you’ve scheduled your impairment rating. However, do not be overwhelmed as there is a 90-day window for the evaluation to take place.

Choosing the Best Doctor for your Impairment Rating

Following the receipt of your final decision for the acceptance of a condition, you will receive paperwork asking whether or not you’d like to complete an impairment evaluation. You’ll also be asked if you would like to have the Department of Labor’s medical consultant do your evaluation or if you would like to choose your own doctor. It is of the utmost importance to choose a qualified impairment specialist experienced in performing evaluations and who are willing to go the extra mile to make sure your rating is as high as possible. For this reason, I choose Dr. Lee Meals and Dr. Rheanel Tolar*, to do evaluations for all my clients.

*Dr. Meals & Dr. Tolar are independent contractors who specialize in performing impairment ratings for former atomic workers, like you!

How to Get the Most out of your Impairment Rating (Every Time!)

  1. Proper preparation for testing is very important. Consult with your advocate to make sure all documentation by your physician is complete and check at least a few days before your doctor’s visit for any special instructions.
  2. If you are working with an advocate, do not send your records to the doctor performing the impairment evaluation. If you do, the evaluation may be done without all the needed testing and documentation, resulting in a lower score.
  3. Keep your advocate aware of any updates with your medical status. In emergent cases, it’s possible that your claim may be expedited.
  4. Your impairment may be increased by a consequential condition. Consequential conditions are any illness, injury, impairment, or disease that is a consequence of an accepted condition under EEOICPA. These conditions may be added to your DOL medical benefits white card.

If you have any questions regarding impairments:

Contact your local Community Outreach Manager who can connect you with Elizabeth Brooks, Independent Advocate for Nuclear Workers & Survivors.

Did you know?

Following your first impairment evaluation, the Department of Labor will pay the difference between the first and second evaluations. For example, if your 1st evaluation was 50% and the 2nd was 70%, the DOL will pay 20% (70%-50%).